Your long-cherished pleasure trip to a neighbourhood mall past midnight to grab a bite at a McDonald’s or catch a movie could soon be a reality, as night clubs will no longer be the exclusive hideouts for nocturnal creatures. The Cabinet on Wednesday approved a model law that permits shops, malls and cinema halls, among other establishments, to run day and night for all 365 days a year.
The Model Shops and Establishment (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Services) Bill, 2016, offers flexibility to establishments employing 10 or more people, barring manufacturing units, on timings for opening and closing. It also allows women to do night shifts, provided they are given adequate security.
Since the Bill is suggestive in nature, it would be up to states to adopt the provisions.Currently, states have their own legislation that regulates the opening and closing times of shops and establishments and prescribes holidays for workers and working shifts for women. The Bill would ensure that legislative provisions and working conditions in shops and establishments, not falling under the Factories Act, remain uniform for all states.
The decision ostensibly comes as a boost to the country’s retail market, which has the potential to grow from $630 billion in 2015 to $1,100-1,200 billion in 2020, according to a CII-BCG report released earlier this year. The Cabinet decision also marks the Centre’s efforts to bring as much flexibility as possible in labour rules to further job creation. It also ensures a level playing field between online and offline retailers, as consumers can shop online any time they want.
The move, first mooted by finance minister Arun Jaitley in the last Budget, will help create more jobs as shops and establishments will require more manpower to run 24X7 throughout the year. This is on top of the Centre last week offering a Rs 6,000-crore package and effecting radical changes to labour rules to boost jobs in the garment sector.
“We can expect more formal jobs to be created across retail, IT and services sectors. There will be a 10% growth in jobs in the short term. The Bill will also make the job market more accessible to women by making it easier for employers to have women working in the night shifts as well,” said Sonal Arora, assistant vice-president, TeamLease Services.
Job creation has been one of the priority areas for the NDA government. Employment generation in eight select sectors had fallen to a six-year low in 2015.
Hailing the move, retailers say much will also depend on the respective state, as maintaining law and order — which has been often cited by the law enforcement agencies as a key reason to deny permission to open commercial establishments at nights — is a state subject.
The draft law provides for exemption of highly skilled workers (for example, workers employed in IT, biotechnology and R&D) from daily working hours of nine hours and 48 hours a week subject to a maximum 125 overtime hours in a quarter.
According to the CII-BCG report, organised retail and e-commerce will grow rapidly to touch $140-160 billion and $45-50 billion, respectively, by 2020. The retail sector will reap the benefits of a large, young population adding to the workforce, a 70% increase in income levels during the period up to 2020, nuclearisation of families and increasing urbanisation, according to the report.
The draft law makes a provision for 12 days’ casual-cum-sick leave for workers, one day earned leave for every 20 days of work performed (can be accommodated up to 45 days), five paid holidays for festivals in addition to three national holidays and compensatory leave in lieu of overtime wage. The Bill also provides for common latrines and urinals, crèche, and canteen facility by a group of employers in case providing basic amenities is difficult for one individual establishment due to space constraints or otherwise.